11/21/2012 11:00 EST | Updated 01/21/2013 05:12 EST

Que. Legislature Given One Week To Decide Fate Of Its Canadian Flag


The speaker of Quebec's national assembly is giving members of the legislature one week to decide on the future of the only Canadian flag in the national assembly.

Jacques Chagnon made the announcement prior to question period at the assembly today.

The Parti Québécois government and the opposition must agree on whether the flag should remain in the Red Room, he said.

The PQ wants the maple leaf removed from the Red Room — the room used for official ceremonies at Quebec's national assembly — during all proceedings and debates.

The Liberals are insisting that the flag stay in the room as long as Quebec remains a part of Canada.

Coalition Avenir Québec François Legault said that, because his party is an alliance of federalists and separatists, it favours the status quo and will vote against the PQ.

Those two parties combined have 69 seats and need 63 votes to have a majority in the legislature and win the vote on Nov. 28.

The Maple Leaf has, in the past, only had a place in the legislature building when the Liberals were in power. It was added to the committee chamber by Robert Bourassa's Liberals in the 1980s and '90s, and again by Jean Charest's government in 2003.

As it has in the past, the PQ moved to take it down after it won the Sept. 4 election. But the move prompted a rare backlash and, with only a minority status, the PQ was forced to hold a vote to decide the issue.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper declined to wade into the dispute when asked about it last week during a trip to Quebec City.

"What can I say?" Harper replied, drawing chuckles from an audience.

"What I can say is our priority, for the people of Quebec and for the rest of Canada, is the economy. I think that's the real priority of Quebecers — not old quarrels. I have no intention of participating in those old debates."

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